Despite some sluggishness in the workboat industry (most notably the energy sector), boatyards continue to build hundreds of boats for scores of operators.

The March issue of WorkBoat due out later this month contains our annual construction survey. It shows that boatyard activity held steady after last year’s 18% drop in the number of newbuilds under contract, under construction or delivered from 2014-15 to 2015-16. Last year there were 515 vessels contained in the survey, compared to 2016-2017’s 510. (The annual survey covers the previous March-February 12-month period.)

Several yards continue to suffer from the depressed energy sector, but there is plenty of good news to report. One big project that’s currently under way has a pair of Gulf Coast yards — Louisiana’s Metal Shark and Alabama’s Horizon Shipbuilding — building new ferries for New York City. In early February, Horizon launched the first of 13 ferries it will build for New York. Horizon has 10 hulls currently under production, with the first New York ferry set for a spring delivery.

The top building category this year was again patrol boats, which have seen Metal Shark, Safe Boats and others land several contracts.

Passenger vessels continue to enjoy strong demand, which is translating into more new construction. The survey’s “Dinner, Excursion and Sightseeing” category jumped to 31 from 19 in 2015-16.

The March issue’s On the Ways section provides a good sample of the variety of boats that are currently being built at U.S. second-tier yards. It includes a new tug from Harley Marine Services, reportedly the first vessel to be powered with Caterpillar 3516C Tier 4 Final engines. Other newbuilds include the first of three 165' sightseeing vessels from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding for New York’s Circle Line, a new 2,000-hp towboat from Bollinger Shipyards, a new 96' Z-drive tug for McAllister Towing from Eastern Shipbuilding, and the first of four 400-passenger ferries for San Francisco Bay from Vigor.

Based on this issue of WorkBoat, past issues and our coverage online, there continues to be no shortage of newbuild construction activity for us to write about.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.